Customer Track Maintenance Guide

Services Customer Track Maintenance Guide

An MRL train moves through a winter scene.

Winter Safety

tracks Created with Sketch.

Safety is of the utmost importance at MRL, not only for our employees but also for you, our customers.

We’ve developed this Customer Track Maintenance Guide in order to help bring attention to the additional hazards that are present during the winter months, especially for our crews performing switching activities.

Winter is a challenging time for a railroad; many of the service disruptions are caused by accumulations of snow and ice. On the track, problems with switches and crossings are mainly caused by fresh and or blowing and drifting snow — so clearing the snow solves the problem.

Our goal is to move your products as quickly and safely as possible.

Please contact your Sales and Marketing Manager or local Trainmaster if you have any questions.

To inquire about obtaining an exhibit that defines the limits of responsibility for your track maintenance, click here.


Be particularly vigilant where flangeways can be become contaminated with snow, ice, or other material, or where any trackage is covered by excessive amounts of snow or ice, or other material. Ensure equipment can be carefully operated through flangeway over such track.

Be especially aware at crossings, as these are prone to these types of conditions.

At a minimum, flangeways must be cleared to a depth of 1.5”.

diagram of flangeway

Photos of acceptable and unacceptable flangeway clearing


Be aware that switches can become very difficult to line due to cold weather and snow/ice build-up in the switch points. Attempting to line a stiff switch can and does lead to back, leg and arm injuries. Proper switch maintenance prior to the winter season can reduce this risk.

Although MRL is responsible for the maintenance of switches on the main line, crews cannot properly service a customer if they cannot line the switches within their facility.

Best industry practices are to have switches and derails “eyed out”. This means that the areas under the switch points and/or derails, are free of materials in between the ties and approx. 5 inches below the base of the rail.

The switch lubricant we recommend is Glidex from Midwest Industries.

Image of acceptable and not acceptable switches


Derails can be buried under snow and must be cleared so train crews can find them. All derails must be properly identified by a sign (as pictured).

Keep in mind that these derails need space to open. A derail, unable to completely open, will sit high and this situation will cause damage and, in some cases, even a derailment.

Derail signage

Images of acceptable and not acceptable derails

Walking Conditions

Everyone is more at risk of injury due to icy conditions. Please ensure icy walkways, particularly trackside, are sanded and/or salted to help crews operating on your property. Also be aware of debris and material that can pose tripping hazards, especially when obscured by fresh and/or blowing and drifting snow.

It is imperative that the areas be cleared trackside by 4-5 ft from the outside of either rail, to allow for safe walking and proper inspection of the cars by train crews prior to movement.

Image of acceptable and not acceptable walking conditions

MRL Tracks

The diagram and explanations show the levels of permission required for certain proximities to the track.

Diagram of track zones
Black Zone

No machinery, persons, equipment or parts of equipment are permitted within the 8-foot lateral clearance and the 22-foot vertical clearance envelope. Any violation creates a restricted clearance that is hazardous to MRL and customer employees. Notify MRL immediately of:

  • Any situation that causes an obstruction in this zone,
  • Movement or change of track-side loading platforms or ramps, unloading augers and other equipment

Red Zone

With written permission and protection from MRL, machinery and equipment can be operated between 8 and 12 feet from the center of the rail, on either side of MRL track. This zone has no vertical limit – any work over the track must be approved. One week advance notice is required. Contact the MRL main office for permission and to arrange protection.

Yellow Zone

If need be, temporary structures, materials and equipment can be between 12 and 25 feet from either side MRL track. To be in the “Yellow Zone” requires MRL permission and possibly flagging protection, if deemed necessary. This zone also has no vertical limit – any work over the track must be approved. Again, contact the MRL main office one week in advance.

Green Zone

Keep buildings, equipment, machinery and personnel more than 25 feet away from either rail at all times.

General Information


In case of any of the following contact your local MRL Trainmaster:

  1. Derailment of any railcar
  2. Equipment or materials within the main track or siding clearance distance (25ft. from nearest rail)
  3. Damage to any switch, derail, sign, rail or structure
  4. Any other condition or situation which might cause injury, damage or derailment
  5. In the case of a leak or suspected leak of any tank car or dangerous commodity on MRL property

Trainmasters Contacts


Bryan Tieszen
cell (406) 702-6211

David Newman
cell (406) 671-6816


Jared Carman
cell (406) 210-8093

Sean Scanson
cell (406) 696-2360


Jeff Carpenter
cell (406) 370-7296

Jeremy Langendorff
cell (406) 546-9917

Alec Swanson
cell (406) 591-2966

Max Medlin
cell (406) 200-0018


Bobby Selby
cell (406) 459-3117

Dewayne Schull
cell (406) 475-4679

Greg Mallinger
cell (406) 498-6093


Chris Moore
cell (406) 529-1484

Justin Bagley
cell (406) 830-6409

Emery Boyer
cell (406) 493-2686

Sales and Marketing Contacts

Mike McKay
(406) 523-1450

Phil Van Tassel
(406) 523-1580

Real Estate Contacts

Sandpoint, ID to East Helena, MT

Katrina Ryan
office (406) 523-1385


Montana City, MT to Huntley, MT

Theresa Beckwith
office (406) 523-1314

Manager Real Estate

Joe Gentri
office (406) 523-1374

Track Maintenance or Derailments within your facility? Contacts


Double R

(406) 945-2866


Neal Structural Repairs

(406) 847-4239


RJ Corman

(406) 670-6488